After the beautiful Malone wedding, we said goodbye to our family and headed on a seester adventure! The drive from Memphis to Nashville took us about 3 1/2 hours which we filled with gossip and our country music playlist which included some Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Kacey Musgraves. Not wanting to spend our extra money on a hotel we checked into the cheapest motel on Priceline, The Comfort Inn, changed our clothes, teezed our hair and got a cab to Broadway Street.
Broadway Street is where we spent the next two nights. We had so much fun listening to great country music, bar hopping and meeting strangers that we stayed out until 3AM every night, shutting down the bars. A few of the highlights of our time on Broadway.
- Visiting the famous bar Tootsies and watching Jake Mayer sing his heart out to a completely packed house. He was a great performer and even hooked me up with a CD even though I didn’t have $10 cash.
- Meeting a DJ – can’t remember his name because our meeting was closer to the 1AM mark – and his crew that bought us a few drinks and had great conversation with his lighting guy who has a farm in Virginia that grows all the ingrediants for his pizza company.
- Dancing with said lighting guy and noticing that the band all of a sudden had a female singer belting out Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart”. Turns out that that singer was none other than the famous Leann Rimes who was in town playing at the Ryman Auditrium that week. She sang three songs, hopped off the stage, ran out the front door and was gone. But while she lasted, it was so cool to see her and watch her sing!
- Mauwing down on left over Gus’ fried chicken in the hotel room after two epic nights out in Nashville. As a general rule of thumb I don’t eat chicken on the bone and I don’t like dark meat, but after a few too many beers we were in bed watching CMT music videos, eating fried chicken and loving every bite!
The second day in Nashville we strapped on our tourist shoes and headed to Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry was filmed from 1943 to 1974. If the Ryman walls could talk it would tell stories of music legends playing on it’s stage including Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline and Roy Acuff. Dubbed the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman is considered by many to be the birthplace of Bluegrass music. According to the state of Nashville, on December 8th, 1945, the definitive sound of Bluegrass was born when a twenty-one year old Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe on the Ryman stage for the first time. Just being in a place where so many of country’s greats had played was incredible. Even if you are not a country music fan, the architecture and details in the craftsmanship of the Ryman is worth visiting.
The second night we tried to hit up the famous listening room, the Bluebird Cafe. Since we are both huge fans of the show Nashville, we thought it would be cool to see the place where so many of our favorite scenes are shot and it is listed as one of the things you just have to do when in Nashville. Since we didn’t reserve our tickets in advance (lesson learned for our next visit) we decided to try to get a seat at the open mic night. The seating is first come first serve and the place is tiny so getting there early is imperative. We figured two hours ahead of time would be good…turns out we were wrong. There was a huge line when we got there and even though we waited to make sure, we were pretty sure we wouldn’t get in. We were right. While we never did see the inside of the Bluebird, we did get to see the outside and take a few pictures. The Bluebird is located in a strip mall accross from a high end shopping center with Anthropologie and Elm West. If you didn’t know it was there you would pass right by. In all honesty it is pretty unimpressive from the outside, but I am sure the music that is played on the inside more than makes up for it.
The third day we decided to hit the road again and see the state of Tennessee while making our way to fulfill one of Belinda’s lifelong dream of visiting Dollywood. Even though it added an extra hour to our trip we decided to swing by a small town south of Nashville called Franklin. We had read it had some really cute botique shops, good food and cool historical sites. After arguing with our cell phone navigation system and studying the map we made it to the cute town of Franklin and headed straight for Pucketts Grocery and Cafe, which is exactly that, a restaurant inside a little grocery store. The place was busy but we got a seat right away and after looking at their mouth watering menu we decided we should probably do our bodies a favor and order something with at least a few vitamins since we had spent the last few days closing down the bars and eating fried chicken in the hotel room. I went with their famous strawberry and pecan salad and Belinda had a pork steak and we split an order of fried green tomatoes. I had never had fried green tomatoes, but was raised on the movie so I was dieing to try them. Turns out I LOVE fried green tomatoes and am now searching for a restaurant locally that serves them.
While we were at Pucketts a nice guy from the catering team stopped to poke some fun because we were both on our cell phones at the same time and so he asked if we were texting eachother. We laughed and explained that we were searching for our next stop, specifically something farm related, as I make it a point to try to see one farm on any trip I go on. He suggested we swing by the Thatcher Dairy which was just a few miles away. Puckett’s sells their products in the grocery store and he gave them rave reviews. He specifically suggested we try their famous Jumpin Jack Chocolate milk which is caffinated a great alternative for those who don’t like coffee (like myself). He also suggested we stop by and see the Carnton Plantation which was the location of the famous Civil War Battle of Franklin.
So first we headed to the Carnton Plantation where we did a self guided tour of the museum and then went on our self guided tour of the grounds. The Carnton Plantation was built in 1826 and was one of the premier farms in the state, but it wasn’t until November of 1864 that the Carnton Plantation became famous.
“Beginning at 4 p.m. on November 30, 1864, Carnton was witness to one of the bloodiest battles of the entire Civil War. Everything the McGavock family ever knew was forever changed. The Confederate Army of Tennessee furiously assaulted the Federal army entrenched along the southern edge of Franklin. The resulting battle, believed to be the bloodiest five hours of the Civil War, involved a massive frontal assault larger than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The majority of the combat occurred in the dark and at close quarters. The Battle of Franklin lasted barely five hours and led to some 9,500 soldiers being killed, wounded, captured, or counted as missing. Nearly 7,000 of that number were Confederate troops. Carnton served as the largest field hospital in the area for hundreds of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers
A staff officer later wrote that “the wounded, in hundreds, were brought to [the house] during the battle, and all the night after. And when the noble old house could hold no more, the yard was appropriated until the wounded and dead filled that….”
On the morning of December 1, 1864 the bodies of four Confederate generals killed during the fighting, Patrick R. Cleburne, Hiram B. Granbury, John Adams, and Otho F. Strahl, lay on Carnton’s back porch. The floors of the restored home are still stained with the blood of the men who were treated here.”
Although we didn’t have the time to take a tour of the inside of the house we did get a chance to see the smokehouse, the outside of the house, the gardens and the slave cabins. The house was massive even by today’s standards, but my favorite part was the huge tree in the garden.
After a long day of driving and sightseeing we pulled into Pigeon Forge at 10:00PM, checked into our hotel and got some shut eye in preperation for our big day at Dollywood.